8th Jazztopad Festival New York



Jazztopad, Poland’s most innovative jazz festival, announces stellar international lineup for June 2024, its eighth edition in New York City. Lineup includes Kris Davis performing the World Premiere of ‘The Solastalgia Suite’, with Lutosławski Quartet; Amalia Umeda, Hand To Earth (Peter Knight, Aviva Endean, Sunny Kim, David & Daniel Wilfred), Hamid Drake, Michael Bates’ Acrobat, Marta Sanchez, Lesley Mok, Stephan Crump & More. Concerts to Take Place in Manhattan at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Rizzoli Bookstore, Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center; and in Brooklyn at Public Records and Barbès

“Illuminating intersections between jazz, contemporary classical, electronic and other music without borders, Poland’s Jazztopad Festival returns to New York for the seventh time with sets from genre-expanding artists ...”  – Alan Scherstuhl, The New York Times

“...Jazztopad stands as an internationally renowned festival with a clearly defined ethos,one that combines a strong respect for the traditions and roots of the music with a progressive vision that provides a platform for the contemporary and innovative.”  – Ian Patterson, AllAboutJazz.com

“Jazztopad Festival meets the high standards set by its predecessors and invites healthy debate on key issues in arts programming.”  - Kevin Le Gendre, Jazzwise

“A model for what a jazz festival can be, Jazztopad is fertile soil for commissioned works and adventure-minded programming.” - Joe Woodard, Down Beat

“The Jazztopad Festival, a leading event of its kind in Poland…”– Nate Chinen, The New York Times

The paradigm-shifting Polish festival Jazztopad makes its annual return to New York City this summer, with a series of genre-blurring events in venues around the city between June 13-16. Since signing on as artistic director of the annual gathering in Wroclaw, Poland in 2008, Piotr Turkiewicz has steadily reshaped the event, transforming it from a landing spot for touring artists and reimagining it as a creative hothouse built on long-term relationships, style-crossing collaborations, and community involvement. The New York program includes the world premiere of a new Kris Davis work featuring her own piano playing and the acclaimed Polish string ensemble Lutosławski Quartet (this event will be live-streamed from Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center), as well as intimate improv sessions built around the young Polish violinist Amalia Umeda (including with Spanish-American pianist Marta Sánchez, and American bassists Michael Bates and Stephan Crump as well as drummer Lesley Mok, recent winner of the Deutscher Jazzpreis for Best International Debut Album), all reflecting a holistic embrace of creative music unencumbered by arbitrary genre boundaries. The program will also feature the North American premiere of “The Crow” by the Australian ensemble Hand to Earth along with performances by bassist Michael Bates, working with his group Acrobat and Lutosławski Quartet, complementing his incisive arrangements of music by the composer Witold Lutosławski with brand new adaptations of music by Karol Szymanowski. As usual, the US edition of Jazztopad has been organized by the National Forum of Music in Wrocław in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

Turkiewicz took the reins of the festival in Wroclaw in its fifth addition (the festival in Poland turns 21 this year), and set about taking advantage of Jazztopad’s home at the National Forum of Music, where he had access to a variety of in-house ensembles, including chamber ensembles, choirs, a cello quartet, and a full symphony orchestra. Since inviting the late trumpeter Kenny Wheeler to write for a string quartet in 2008 he’s subsequently commissioned nearly 50 projects, including orchestral works by William Parker, Charles Lloyd and Wadada Leo Smith, or pieces for soloist and string quartet by the likes of Craig Taborn, Joëlle Léandre, Uri Caine and James Brandon Lewis as well as music for chamber ensembles by Wayne Shorter or Nicole Mitchell.

“I think it's pretty rare to find composers in the improvised music world that can actually work with strings, so that it makes sense, and it's not artificially merged,” says Turkiewicz. He notes that for some musicians it's a first-time experience. “It was also a challenge for them. I liked that process, where it's not only a new piece, but it's also a very new side of their creative output. I love working with Lutosławski Quartet, because they're incredible musicians, but also super flexible. They’re not an improvising string quartet, but over the years—they’ve worked with Vijay Iyer, Sylvie Courvoiser, Uri Caine, the list is very long—they’ve opened up as well. They're not improvisers, but they're open to free improvisation. It has been really cool to see how they've grown as musicians as well.”

Last year Taborn’s “Luminous Grid” got its world premiere at the New York edition before traveling to Wroclaw in the fall, and the new Davis commission follows the same trajectory this year. Drawing inspiration from Messiaen's hauntingly beautiful “Quartet for the End of Time,” which was  composed amidst the turmoil of World War II, 'The Solastalgia Suite' channels a similar sense of existential fear and introspection. Davis skillfully blends influences from Messiaen, Beyoncé, and Cecil Taylor, weaving a rich tapestry of sounds that seamlessly integrates written compositions with improvisational elements.

As part of Jazztopad’s commitment to erasing borders this year’s program includes Hand to Earth, a group from Australia led by trumpeter Peter Knight, also including Korean singer Sunny Kim and featuring two aboriginal members—brothers David and Daniel Wilfred, keepers of one of the oldest known vocal traditions in the world. Turkiewicz first met Knight on a trip to Australia in 2016, when Knight was director of the Australian Art Orchestra. They’ve built a lasting partnership ever since. There have been several iterations of Hand to Earth but the version that comes to New York, “The Crow” co-commissioned by the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, is special thanks to the participation of Umeda, an exciting musician who’s development and growth has been nourished in part by various Jazztopad projects. The ensemble, which also includes the acclaimed saxophonist Aviva Endean, uses expansive improvisation to meld ambient sounds and traditional  ‘Manikay’ (public songs) sung in Wagiläk. “When we started doing Jazztopad in New York it was just Polish artists playing,” Turkiewicz says. “But then I realized when you look at the programs in Poland, there's not so many Polish artists performing. What I wanted to do is reflect in New York what we were doing in Poland, but without bringing in artists that regularly play here.”

Despite the name of the festival he’s devoted to forging programs that elide any single musical tradition. In fact, his curation thrives when it connects musicians from disparate backgrounds. While Hand to Earth will perform “The Crow” at the Hearst Plaza outdoor stage at Lincoln Center, they’ll conjure a different spirit with the Bungul event at Public Records in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Umeda, plus renowned Chicago percussionist Hamid Drake and the musicians from Hand to Earth will be joined by a variety of guest New York improvisers, tapping into the improvisational core of Hand to Earth. “The concept of this is to bring musicians together from different constellations and have a couple of hours of improv; more like a trance meditation than an actual concert,” explains Turkiewicz.

While the premieres take place in beloved locations at Lincoln Center, he’s just as excited about the performances at small venues like Brooklyn’s Barbès, where Umeda will improvise with pianist Marta Sánchez, drummer Lesley Mok and bassist Michael Bates, among others. “Like in Poland, it’s the house concerts and shows in small clubs that are the soul of the festival, where the musicians meet. It’s about a vibe. We found people with cool apartments in New York that are super happy to host us, like Azerbaijani pianist Amina Figarova. Last year we did concerts there and it was really cool. I work with a lot of American musicians at the festival in Poland, so we just invite whoever is in town to play. There's food and drinks. I love those moments: the concerts are great, but these are the moments that create community. It’s a way to connect to the actual people who live in the city.”

For the first time Jazztopad will be at the Rizzoli Bookstore in NOMAD where Umeda will be joined by NYC bassist Stephan Crump for an improvised encounter.

This project is organized by the National Forum of Music in Wrocław in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York.


Thursday June 13 at 7:00 PM & 9:00 PM

Kris Davis & Lutosławski Quartet - World Premiere of The Solastalgia Suite
Dizzy’s Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

Friday, June 14 at 7:30 PM
Voices International Fest/Hand to Earth
Jersey City Theater Center
165 Newark Avenue Jersey City, NJ 07302 (Entrance from Barrow Street)

Friday, June 14 at 8:00 PM
Amalia Umeda + Lesley Mok + Michael Bates
376 9th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Friday, June 14 at 8:00 PM
Kris Davis + Lutosławski Quartet
Solar Myth
1131 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Saturday, June 15 at 4:30 PM
North American Premiere of “The Crow” by Hand to Earth with Amalia Umeda
Hearst Plaza at Lincoln Center Out of Doors
30 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023

Saturday, June 15 at 8:00 PM
Michael Bates Acrobat with Lutosławski Quartet
376 9th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Sunday, June 16 at 5:00 PM
Rizzoli Bookstore
1133 Broadway, New York, NY 10001
Stephan Crump + Amalia Umeda

Sunday, June 16 at 8:00 PM (doors 7:00 PM)
BUNGUL – Hamid Drake + Amalia Umeda + Peter Knight + Sunny Kim + Aviva Endean +Daniel Wilfred + David Wilfred
Public Records
233 Butler St. Brooklyn NY 1121